Why We Dance

From L-R: Shanley Spence, Rylee Sandberg, Waylon Mousseau

As First Nation peoples, music and dance is embodied into our cultural identity. Our ancestors had songs for birth, for joy, grief, prayer, and many other significant or ceremonial events, traditions nearly lost to colonialism and forced assimilation.

There was a time in Canada when it was “illegal” for First Nation people to speak our languages, sing our songs, and dance to the beat of the drum, but not today!

No First Nations’ ceremony, feast, or event would be complete without the prayers, songs, and dances of our Relatives, which breathe life into our communities.

Today we honour these SCO-member First Nation dancers who are keeping the tradition alive!

Rylee Sandberg and Kelly Chinchilla

Rylee Sandberg at the 2019 Anishinaabe Nation Gathering

Rylee Sandberg and her mother, Kelly Chinchilla

This mother-daughter duo does it all!

Rylee Sandberg hoop dances at the Anishinaabe Nation Gathering, 2019

Living in Winnipeg, with ties to Roseau Anishinabe First Nation on her mother’s side and Norway House Cree Nation on her father’s, Rylee Sandberg began jingle dancing at the age of 2! Now 11-years-old, Rylee is a proficient jingle, fancy shawl, and hoop dancer who has taken lessons in jazz, ballet, hip hop, and tap.

Ryle’s mother, Kelly Chinchilla, is a school-teacher, mixed martial artist, fancy shawl, and jingle dress dancer and teacher. Kelly actually began dancing a year AFTER her daughter, as she watched from the sidelines and felt “pulled” into the pow wow circle.

Rylee has learned from a lot from her mother, as well as through workshops and travelling with internationally known Shanley Spence, which brings us to our next dancer...

Shanley Spence

Shanley Spence hoop dancing for a crowd

Shanley Spence is an internationally known, world class First Nation performer. Born and raised in Winnipeg, Shanley’s father is Anishinaabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation and her mother is Nihithaw from Pukatawagan.

Shanley began dancing at the age of three and started her hoop dancing career at the age of 13. Having performed at a variety of nationwide and international events, institutions, conferences, and workshops, Shanley has even shared the stage with the likes of A Tribe Called Red, Nelly Furtado, Mohawk DJ “DJ Shub”, Boogey the Beat, and many others.

As a strong advocate, Shanley’s community involvement has earned her many awards and accolades, including a Top 40 Under 40 Manitoba Award in 2017 and a Manitoba Youth Achievement Award for Artistic Performance!

Waylon Mousseau

Waylon Mousseau dancing at the Anishinaabe Nation Gathering during the summer of 2019

“I was told once before by an Elder, ‘To know where you’re going in life, you have to know where you come from.’”

Waylon Mousseau, 37-years-old, grew up in Winnipeg, MB and is Anishinaabe with roots from Sandy Bay First Nation. Waylon is a First Nation dancer, drummer, and singer, who started dancing when he was about eight years old.

Dancing has been a healing art for Wayne in his adult years, helping him to heal from past traumas and overcome past experiences within the justice system. It’s also been a tradition he can share with his sons, with him setting a positive example for the next generation while keeping the tradition alive!

His other love is creating beautiful tattoo art, which he does at The Parlor Tattoos in Winnipeg.

Chi-Miigwetch & Pidamiye to all the talented & passionate First Nation dancers for keeping this beautiful and vital practice alive for our people!